“Big decisions” would have to be made by August of this year at the latest, former US Secretary of State and geopolitician Henry Kissinger told Fox News in relation to the Ukraine war. Is there an escalation to world war?
Opposite to Fox News (German translation e.g. here in Video on telegram) Henry Kissinger stated a few days ago that the United States could not allow Russia to conquer Ukrainian territory because this would be an attack on the very foundations of NATO. The current trench warfare with hardened fronts is reminiscent of the First World War and will soon – in August at the latest – be replaced by new offensives, according to the former US Secretary of State. And then “big decisions have to be made”.
The 99-year-old former US Secretary of State spoke out opposite the mirror detailed – but reserved – about the Ukraine war and its consequences. Kissinger defended the position he took on a World Economic Forum conference call in May that peace talks should be based on the status quo prior to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Since then, however, Russia has gained large areas and appears on the verge of conquering the entire Donbass, with a quarter of Ukraine’s land area and three-quarters of Ukraine’s industrial capacity. What if Russia does not want to return to the February 24 contact line? Der Spiegel didn’t ask about it, and Kissinger didn’t say it, at least not directly.
Der Spiegel could have asked Kissinger what he thought of a warning from Serbian President Aleksandar Vuvic that was reported in Russian media (which unfortunately cannot be linked due to US sanctions) on July 14: “I know what’s coming. As soon as Vladimir Putin has done his work in Seversk, Bakhmut and Soledar, having reached the second line Slaviansk-Kramatorsk-Avdeyevka, he will make a proposal. And when you [der Westen] not accepting him – and they won’t – all hell will break loose.”
Kissinger hinted at a kind of hell by pointing to the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) in which perhaps two-fifths of Central Europe’s population was killed. And he warned that if the conflict continued, Russia could no longer be part of European history. “I do not share the view,” Kissinger said, “that Putin wants to regain everything that Moscow lost after 1989. But he can’t stand the fact that almost the entire area between Berlin and the Russian border has fallen to NATO. That made Ukraine a sticky point for him.”
Der Spiegel did its best to get Kissinger to recommend territorial concessions to Ukraine – to no avail. He asked: “You have written a new book and the first chapter portrays Konrad Adenauer. His policy, you write, ‘was based on regarding the partition of his country as temporary’. Did you have that in mind when you recently made your proposal to end the Ukraine war: that Ukraine accept a temporary partition of its territory, build part of the country into a pro-Western, democratic, economically strong nation and wait for… the other part will calm down one day and rejoin Ukraine?”
Kissinger dismissed the question. “What I said is something else: To end this war, the best dividing line is that of the status quo ante, which covered about 93 percent of the country. Restoring this status quo would mean that the aggression has failed. So it’s about a ceasefire along the February 24 line of contact. The area then still controlled by Russia, around 2.5 percent of Ukraine’s territory in the Donbass and on the Crimean peninsula, would then be part of further negotiations,” said the former top envoy.
The mirror urged him: “However, they added that if the war were to continue beyond the February 24 contact line, ‘it is no longer about Ukraine’s freedom, but about a new war against Russia itself’.” Kissinger dodged the question, replying, “I never said that Ukraine should give up any part of its territory.” However, later in the interview, Kissinger hinted at the answer he would have given if asked. Der Spiegel asked if he thought promoting democracy should be a goal of foreign policy.
Kissinger replied: “For me, democracy is the more desirable system. But when that preference is made a priority in the international relations of today’s world, it leads to a missionary impulse. This could lead to another military conflict like in the Thirty Years’ War. Incidentally, as far as China is concerned, President Biden’s administration has stated that it has no intention of establishing a regime there to bring about change. So he faces a problem that all leaders of great nations face. There are indeed situations where there is an obligation to defend – and this is how Europe sees the conflict over Ukraine. However, statecraft in this situation must take into account three things at the same time: the historical importance of the balance of power, the new importance of high technology, and the preservation of its essential values. This challenge is new.”
But the question that remains open is: What if Russia wins this war? What if Russian troops gain control of even more areas (notably the Black Sea coast to the Moldovan border) and Kyiv eventually has to capitulate? At some point the Ukrainians will run out of capacity to continue the war in view of the enormous troop losses. So must an escalation (the “big decisions” Kissinger spoke of) take place in the coming weeks to prevent exactly that?